So a Greek and a Korean walk into a bar….

In my rounds of media monitoring I found these items of Greece’s president Karolos Papoulias and Korea’s president Park Geun-hye agreeing on deepening economic cooperation. Greece and Korea have a relationship that goes back to the Korean War, with the Greek Expeditionary Force fighting in Korea before the two countries even had diplomatic relations. Greece sent the 5th largest contingent (10,581), not too shabby for a country dealing with the aftermath of World War 2 and being the first theatre of the Cold War.

Various news articles follow

S. Korea, Greece agree to deepen economic cooperation – Yonhap
Να επενδύσουν στην Ελλάδα καλεί τους Κορεάτες ο Κάρολος Παπούλιας –
朴대통령 “한·그리스 해운·조선 협력, 더 큰 기회 될 것” – newsis

A Greek company was the first to place orders at my company, before the shipyard was even finished. The same company still places orders for ships here. My dad was a crew member on one of this owner’s ships back in the 60s. Trade between the two countries is heavily skewed towards Korea though, with Greeks being the biggest buyers of ships. Korean investment in Greece, on the other hand….


The Greek forces received high praise for their actions during the Korean War, with Sparta Battalion receiving a US Presidential Unit Citation for their defence of Outpost Harry (harry sounds like one of the Greek words for hell). I strongly recommend you watch this episode of The Time Machine. He starts with the Greek idiom “it is like Korea”. It’s used to describe extreme situations. So I guess one could say Greece now is like Korea?

The guy at 14 m gets me every time (screencap)


At 23 m, there are eyewitness accounts of life in the army camp, both for the Greeks and the Koreans. It is not for the faint of heart (hunger, poverty, among other things). Details from survivors of Outpost Harry begin at 27 m. My mum says my great-grandfather fought in Korea, as well as a few other relatives.

Greek with English subtitles

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